Class 58 (Type 5)
Class: Class 58 (Type 5)
Designer: British Rail
Weight: 129 tons
Purpose: Heavy Freight
Information: Development of second generation diesels came slowly to British Railways. But by the mid to late 1970’s the need for more powerful and specialised motive power was so great that BREL produced the Class 58 while production of earlier 56’s was still in progress, being first introduced in December 1982.
Details: Class 58, appropriately nicknamed “Bones” were a revolutionary no-frills design heavy freight locomotive. In the mid-1970’s BREL produced a Class 56 design for similar purpose. Before production of the 56’s was completed a new modular bare-bone design, resulting in the Class 58 was adopted. Specifications for the Class 58 were similar in all respects to the 56’s, however, the premise of the 58 was to produce a low cost machine with ease of maintenance, hence external walk-ways and removable side panels were employed. Intentions to produce locomotives for export never materialised, although in later years many of the locomotives were sold for service in Continental Europe. Between 1982 and 1987 a total of 50 locomotives were assembled at Doncaster Locomotive Works in conjunction with Brush Electric.
Specialised Merry-Go-Round (MGR) freight traffic was the intended purpose of the locomotive. As such, provision was not made for passenger heating equipment. By 1989 the entire class was allocated to Toton Power Station.
Being introduced in the early 1980’s, the 58’s were the first new locomotives to enter traffic in the newly applied smart Sectorisation Grey livery with large BR arrow insignias,red sole bars, and yellow cabs. Further Sector liveries were applied by British Railways and later Private Owners.
As with the 56’s, a large number of the class fell into EWS ownership. EWS was wholly owned by American interests and as such deemed the 56’s and 58’s both under-powered and antiquated quickly replacing the hard used locomotives with modern General Motors Class 65 and 66 designs. By 2001 the entire class was relegated storage status. As indicated earlier, this was not the end of the line for the Class 58. As they were far from life-expired, many found work with new owners in France, Spain, and Holland. In 2010 five units were scrapped and one, 58 016 set aside for preservation; while at the same time a second unit was purchased for spares. Although none are likely to see active service in Britain again, 36 remain active in Europe as of the end of 2010.